MINNEAPOLIS -- The American League Central race has tightened over the past two months, making the upcoming Trade Deadline all the more important for the Indians and the teams clustered behind them in the standings.
"Trades can definitely change the outcomes of races," Tribe closer Chris Perez said.
Cleveland is currently exploring all avenues for upgrading its roster as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches. The Indians are certainly in the market for a right-handed bat, but the ballclub has not ruled out pursuing a left-handed hitter, either. The Tribe is also having conversations about rotation help.
At this point, the Indians are not ruling much out.
"We're looking at all different opportunities to improve our team," Indians GM Chris Antonetti said. "We are not limiting ourselves."
Much has been made of Cleveland's need for right-handed aid on the offensive end, but the team is also currently without left-handed hitters Shin-Soo Choo (broken left thumb) and Grady Sizemore (right knee injury). Choo could be back in September, while Sizemore's timetable is currently not clear.
Indians manager Manny Acta said it is obvious that his team could benefit from a trade.
"That's an understatement," Acta said. "How can you substitute [for] the absence of Choo and Grady Sizemore? I don't think that's a secret. We know that, from top to bottom, and we're working on it. But people need to understand, too, that it takes two to tango.
"You can have all the Christmas lists and wishes and all that, but you need to have somebody that you can engage with."
On the offensive side, the Indians have been linked to Ryan Ludwick, Josh Willingham and Carlos Beltran in various reports. Cleveland is also rumored to have shown interest in pitchers Hiroki Kuroda and Aaron Harang.
Antonetti would only go as far as to reiterate Cleveland's open mindedness. He added that the recent loss of Sizemore will not affect the team's approach to Trade Deadline talks.
It appears as though the Indians do have some financial flexibility, but only to a point. Cleveland is also not going to part with top core prospects (such as Drew Pomeranz, Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall or Alex White) for a "rental" player who will only be around for a stretch run before hitting free agency.
"For us," Antonetti said, "it's always a challenge to find the right balance of the short term versus the long term. Certainly, we want to do what we can to improve this year's team, but we have to be mindful of ... the long-term cost."
Acta echoed that sentiment.
"It's going to have to be something that makes sense for us," said the manager. "We have made it clear that we're not going to mortgage our future."